What Are My Rights As A Pregnant Employee?

Discrimination and Harassment November 23rd, 2023
Pregnant woman at desk Pregnant woman at desk

Pregnancy is an exciting time for many expecting mothers. However, it can also be a period of uncertainty. Women may be concerned about telling their employer about their pregnancy for a variety of reasons. They may be concerned that their employer will treat them differently or even terminate their employment in some cases. Thankfully, California protects pregnant employees against discrimination or harassment due to their pregnancy or any other related medical condition.

California Laws Relating to Pregnancy Leave

California has several laws that directly relate to pregnancy leave. Federal law provides some rights as well, but California laws are more extensive.

  • Pregnancy Disability Leave: Employees who become disabled related to their pregnancy or childbirth may have up to four months of leave while the disability exists. This type of leave covers things like morning sickness and post-partum depression.
  • Family Leave: Employees can take up to 12 weeks away from their jobs after childbirth to bond with their child. This leave applies to employers that have 20 or more employees.
  • Reasonable Accommodation Leave: If a woman becomes disabled as a result of her pregnancy, she may be entitled to take additional leave if that leave is a reasonable accommodation of her condition. This leave is not always available; it affects employers that have five or more employees.

Each of these types of leave can be combined, which means that a woman can potentially take upwards of seven months of leave due to pregnancy.

Pregnancy Discrimination in California

Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace occurs when an employee or applicant receives less favorable treatment because of their pregnancy. Pregnancy discrimination is unlawful in California for employers that have five or more employees under the California Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA).

The FEHA prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and any medical conditions that may arise because of pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. In California, pregnancy discrimination is a type of sex discrimination.

If you believe you have been subjected to pregnancy discrimination, you may have a legal claim to assert against your employer. Employment law in California allows workers to file a lawsuit in court or file a complaint with the State of California Civil Rights Department to address violations of discrimination laws. An employment lawyer can often help with this process.

Reasonable Accommodations for Medical Conditions Related to Pregnancy

Pregnancy can result in certain health conditions or limitations that restrict your ability to work. California law requires employers to take steps to provide reasonable accommodations to address medical needs related to pregnancy or childbirth.

These accommodations might include things like:

  • Modifying your schedule to work fewer hours
  • Providing more frequent breaks
  • Allowing the worker to sit on a chair or stool
  • Increased leave or time away from work
  • Transferring to a less hazardous or dangerous position

After birth, employers are also required to provide a reasonable break time and private area to express breast milk as well.

Understand Your Pregnancy Rights By Contacting D.Law

If you are unsure of your rights or you feel that you have been mistreated due to pregnancy, contact D.Law. We can help you understand your rights and assert them.

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